Almost half the women who use social media experience sexual victimisation – such as being asked to share intimate pictures of themselves or receiving unsolicited sexual images, a study has found.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield in the UK conducted an anonymous online survey about online experiences of female users on social media.

The most frequent experience was being asked to share sexual images of themselves, followed by receiving unsolicited sexual images and requests to talk about sex.

b’Representational Image | Source: Reuters’

Of those questioned 41 per cent had experienced threatening behaviour online, the most common being receiving offensive messages, 38 per cent had experienced humiliating contact and 15 per cent had experienced sexual, threatening or humiliating contact.

Some participants admitted being perpetrators of cyberviolence, with 13 per cent admitting to sexual behaviour and 12 per cent admitting to threatening and humiliating behaviours.

The research also revealed that as a result of cyberviolence women reported negative feelings about themselves and perpetrators, women also developed coping strategies to manage such negative contact which include the use of humour and defiance, as well as minimising behaviour and reporting indifference.

“These results suggest that cyberviolence via social media is a problem for female social media users, across various social media platforms and has lasting offline consequences,” said Megan Kenny from University of Huddersfield.

“If you are a victim of this kind of behaviour document everything using screenshots, making note of dates and report the individual to the platform in the first instance,” said Kenny.

“If you believe you are at serious risk of harm, ensure you have documented as much as possible and contact the police,” she said.

Feature image source: Reuters/File Photo